Culture

Traditional Christmas Latino Meals And The History Behind Them

Latinos have played an pivotal role in American cuisine since the very beginning. But the wealth and complexity of Latin food traditions goes far beyond Taco Tuesdays and happy hour margaritas. Each Latin American country boasts its own unique  flavors, and while several of the same dishes exist in different forms throughout North, South, and Central America, each culture’s recipes are distinctly its own. The real beauty about Latin cuisine in the US is that these distinct cultural identities all have their place in our country’s vast gastronomic canon, maintaining their original shape while also merging into a stunning mezcla of vibrant new culinary customs.

While family tradition is super important in the Latino kitchen—with recipes being passed down from generation to generation—many old school dishes are being adapted in lieu of modern culinary trends.

And this makes sense. From food to music to fashion, cultural exchange is how new innovations and creative ideas come to life. But it is especially common in the realm of cuisine—we need food to survive, after all, and we are always seeking new ways to make this basic necessity a bit more interesting and enjoyable. In places like the US, where countless cultures coexist and overlap, it’s inevitable that different culinary traditions would borrow from each other and coalesce to make something totally fresh and distinct.

So what are some of the most classic Latino food traditions? How have they morphed and changed over time? And how have they stayed the same?

Tamales

Credit: Pinterest

Tamales are a quintessential dish in many Latin American countries, though they differ from place to place. Yet the tradition of preparing tamales communally and collaboratively stands the test of both time and geography, as it is so often a group effort guided by la abuela’s magical, age-old tamale skills. With ancient Mesoamerican origins, the tamale will always be the root of blossoming Latinx cuisine—there’s nothing like the smell of steam rising from the tamalera and filling la cocina with goodness. They are the ultimate comfort food, and they’ve maintained their integrity, as they are too classic to change in any major sense. And the best way to eat tamales? With a steamy cup of champurrado in hand.

Guacamole

Credit: Pinterest

Guacamole is a beloved concoction all over the world, though it originated in South Central Mexico several thousand years ago. Over time, it evolved from a prized Aztec dish to a ubiquitous and highly coveted snack that—in the US, anyway—spikes in popularity during certain events, like the Superbowl. Because of its simplicity, guacamole serves as a canvas for culinary creativity, with several different incarnations since its original blend of avocados, herbs, and spices. With guacamole, there opportunities to experiment are truly endless.

Micheladas

Credit: Pinterest

The michelada has also evolved into a canvas of sorts, inviting people to create elaborate versions of this classic Mexican drink. Similar to the popular Bloody Mary, micheladas can sometimes serve as a whole meal, with entire salads floating atop the base of spicy, salty beer. Often, different types of mariscos are added, from shrimp to crab legs to octopus to oysters. Sometimes the michelada is adorned with varias frutas, like watermelon, pineapple, or blackberries. And occasionally, micheladas llevan all of the above! Like guacamole, the possibilities son infinitos.

Ceviche

Credit: Pinterest

Some version of ceviche is made all over Latin America, but it is widely believed to originate in Peru—it is certainly synonymous with Peruvian cuisine, and is considered a national Peruvian dish. Its defining feature is some type of raw fish that is cured by citrus juices, then spiced with various seasonings. In Costa Rica, the featured fish is typically tilapia or corvina, although mahi-mahi, shark and marlin are also commonly used. In Mexico and some parts of Central America, it is often served with tostadas. El Salvador and Nicaragua produce a version called ceviche de concha negra, which is dark in color and quite picante. And in the United States, its renditions are just as diverse, highlighting everything from shrimp to scallops to octopus.

Maiz (En Todas Sus Formas)

Credit: Pinterest

We’ve already mentioned tamales and champurrado, but corn is such a widespread culinary staple throughout Latin America, that it had to be repeated. Not only does corn form tortillas and masa, which are the base for a wide variety of different snacks and dishes (tacos, tostadas, tamales, etc.), but corn also appears in ancient drinks like Peruvian chicha and atole from Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. It’s the highlight of that fantastic Mexican street snack, elote (btw, if you’ve never had elote helado, está buení simo and you need to find some ASAP). Latin American food would be a totally different beast without corn, so we’ve got to sing its praises!

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

Chicago’s Mi Tocaya Is Offering Up Free Mexican Homemeals For Undocumented Community

Culture

Chicago’s Mi Tocaya Is Offering Up Free Mexican Homemeals For Undocumented Community

mitocaya / Instagram

Undocumented communities are being left out of Covid relief plans. Chef Diana Dávila of Mi Tocaya in Chicago is working to help undocumented restaurant worker in the time of Covid. Abuse of undocumented workers is rampant in certain industries and Chef Dávila hopes to offer some kind of help.

Mi Tocaya is a Mexican restaurant in Chicago’s Logan Square that wants to help the community.

Covid-19 has devastated the hospitality industry with restaurants being hit exceptionally hard. Restaurants have been forced to close their doors for good as the virus dragged on with no decent relief plan from the federal government. As several countries financially support citizens to avoid economic disaster, the U.S. government has given citizens $1,800 total to cover 10 months of isolating and business closures.

Namely, Mi Tocaya is working to help the undocumented community.

Mi Tocaya, a family-run restaurant, is teaming up with Chicago’s Top Chefs and local non-profits Dishroulette Kitchen and Logan Square Neighborhood Association. The goal is to highlight the issues facing the undocumented community during the pandemic.

The initiative called Todos Ponen, is all about uplifting members of our community in a time of severe need. The restaurant is creating healthy Mexican family meals for those in need.

”We asked ourselves; How can we keep our doors open, provide a true service to the community, maintain and create jobs, and keep the supply chain intact by supporting local farmers and vendors. This is the answer,” Chef Dávila said in a statement. “I confidently believe The TODOS PONEN Logan Square Project addresses all of the above and can very well be easily implemented in any community. Our goal is to bring awareness to the lack of resources available to the undocumented workforce- the backbone of our industry.”

The initiative starts in February.

Mi Tocaya is offering 1000 free meals for local farmers and undocumented restaurant workers. The meals are available for pickup Tuesday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 2800 W Logan Blvd, Chicago, IL 60647. to make this happen, Mi Tocaya also needs your help.

The restaurant has teamed up with two nonprofits to make sure that they can scale their operation to fulfill their commitment. They are also asking for donations to make sure they can do what they can to help undocumented restaurant workers.

According to Eater LA, 8 million restaurant workers have been laid off since the pandemic started. Some restaurants have had to lay off up to 91 percent of their staff because of Covid, about 10 percent of those are undocumented. In the cities, that number is as high as 40 percent of the laid-off restaurant staff are undocumented.

“People don’t want to talk about the undocumented workforce, but they’re part of our daily routine in most restaurants,” Jackson Flores, who manages the operations of Mi Tocaya, said in a statement. “They are in the toughest position in the whole economy because they’re an invisible part of it. Restaurant worker advocacy groups have added the creation of relief funds to their agendas, but there have yet to be long-term changes in protections for undocumented workers. Without access to unemployment benefits and other government resources, this group is especially vulnerable.”

READ: Hands-Free Cholula Dispensers Have Become a Thing In Restaurants Because of COVID-19

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com

From TV-less Weekdays To Cereal Bowls, People Are Sharing The Strangest House Rules

Culture

From TV-less Weekdays To Cereal Bowls, People Are Sharing The Strangest House Rules

James Leynse / Getty

If you’ve ever spent the night at someone else’s home, you know that there are people in the world who have house rules that can be very different from your own. From rules about drinking all of your milk cereal to not raising the volume of the television to a hearable level, different households have them all. Now, some of these crazy house rules are being shared in the comments section of an AskReddit. Not only are some of the stories and rules shared wild, some are also even a little sickening.

Check them out below!

“I had a friend who instead of washing the dishes after a meal just put them straight back in the cupboard. I thought his parents would freak out but it turns out it was just something they did in their house. Whenever I went over I always made sure to eat beforehand.” Reddit User

“Family who babysat me when I was young had a rule of “no drinking during meals” and I don’t just mean soda, juice or milk, no water until your meal is done. This was insane to me because we would be called in to supper/lunch after playing outside in the summer and weren’t allowed to drink anything until we sat down and finished our plates. Also, this rule didn’t apply to the father of the family who would often drink beer during meals.

My great-aunt had a parlor room in which all the furniture was covered in plastic and never used, it also had a plastic walkway going through the middle (just a strip of plastic cover) which was the only path you could walk on (she would flip out if you touched carpet).” –Random_White_Guy

“I wasn’t allowed to put extra salt on my food, had to be in bed by 8pm (all the way through middle school), and had to ride my bike to school everyday even though my best friends parents offered to take me.” –willwhit87

“No fighting over the heel of the bread. The father once off hand told his oldest children that the heel of a loaf of bread was the best and made them want it instead of the regular pieces. By the time there were 4 kids sometimes fist fights would break out over the heels. Loaves had been opened on both sides, or loaves were a mess because someone reached through the sack and pulled the back heel out. For a while there was a turn system where the heels were promised to a child for each loaf, but that fell apart when one went to summer camp and lost their turn. One time my friend wasted an afternoon waiting for his mother to come home with a fresh loaf of bread instead of going out and playing. I witnessed fist fights over the bread most people throw away.” –DarrenEdwards

“In college I had a friend that lived with his grandparents when he went to school. Before they’d let him leave the house his grandmother would say ‘nothing good happens after midnight’ and he would have to repeat it. If I was there, I would also have to repeat the phrase.” –iownalaptop

“I slept over a friends house in grade school one time. He prepared us a bowl of cereal the next morning for breakfast. Not thinking ANYTHING of my behavior, I didn’t finish the milk. I just never used to. I don’t know.

He was like “You uh…gonna finish that?”

“Uhhh oh…I uh…I don’t think so? Does that matter?”

He panicked. Absolutely panicked. I think he put it down the toilet before his parents came back into the room.

I don’t know what the rule was, exactly, but FINISH YOUR MILK OR DIE would be my guess based on his reaction. I still feel bad about it. I was like 8 and didn’t think.” –soomuchcoffee

“When I was a kid. I spent the night at one of my friends house. And you were allowed to drink a soda like sprite before bed. But you had to stir it till all the carbonation was gone.. Don’t ask me why…” –newvictim

“I had a friend in middle school, and his dad worked for Pepsi. No one was allowed to bring any Coke products into the house. The first time I went there his mom told me I could not come in the house because I had a Dr. Pepper. I thought she was joking and tried to walk in, but stopped me and said that if I don’t throw that in the garbage outside that I would have to leave. They were fucking serious about that shit.” – SlowRunner

“During college years, I used to visit my friend during summer months at his parents’ house, where he lived at that time. They had two odd “house rules” I’ll never forget:

  1. We couldn’t open any window in the house (even the bathroom window) – ever! Even if it was far cooler outside than inside during the summer.
  2. We weren’t allowed to close our bedroom doors at night, so that his parents’ cat could have free access to all rooms at all times. (This made it difficult to sleep, without a breath of air from the windows, and the cat walking over us in bed while trying to sleep.)” –Back2Bach

“I knew this family that would share the same bathwater as a means to cut down on their water bill. So when one person took a bath, they ALL took a bath that day. The waiting list was about 4-5 people deep. From what I understand, a lot of families do this, however, I just couldn’t see myself washing off in someone else’s soapy leftovers =( If that were the case, I got first dibs on getting in the bathtub first lol”- __femme_fatale__

“My ex’s family would throw all their left over food over their balconey instead of putting in the trash can. I asked them why they did that, they replied it keeps bugs away……..and didnt think rotted food right outside their door would bring bugs.” –PimemtoCheese

“I had a friend whose mom required her to sit on the floor. Never a chair, couch, bed, or other piece of furniture. I went to her house once and sat down on her bed and she flipped out, made me get off it and spent several minutes smoothing the sheets to make it look flat again. I think her mom thought “kids are dirty” but the rule was in place even after bathing and wearing clean.” –knitasha

“Went over to a school-mates’s house for dinner when I was in elementary school…his mom cut everyone’s good into little tiny bites before giving you the plate and only let us eat with a spoon… Her oldest daughter apparently choked on something once when she was a teenager and it became a rule…even on hamburger and hotdog night.” –GRZMNKY

“I was doing a project with a classmate at her house and on our way to her house we stopped at a store and picked up some snacks. We did our schoolwork and then just kind of played and messed around while eating those snacks. Then her mom came home and lost her absolute shit about the snacks. It wasn’t so much that we had eaten them, it was because the snacks had crumbs that had contaminated their otherwise purified home.

My friend had to stop everything and vacuum the entire house to get every crumb of snack, then take the nearly empty vacuum bag, the empty snack bags, and the half-empty but “contaminated” bag of kitchen trash outside and ask one of the neighbors if she could put it in their garbage bin because not a crumb of that kind of food was allowed on the property in any form after sunset. My mom picked me up and as I was leaving they were doing some additional purification ritual and my friend was praying for forgiveness for having potentially defiled their home.

Turns out they were 7th Day Adventist and it was against their code or whatever to have leavened foods in their house/property during a certain period of time? I don’t remember the exact details, but I remember it was a pretty big thing about how every crumb had to be removed from the property ASAP.” – alexa-488

“My neighborhood friend and I would hang out almost every day of the summer. We would go out exploring in the woods with a bunch of our friends and would usually come back all muddy and tired. My friend was very nice and would offer me water and food. His parents would take those away from me if they saw me with them saying they were only for their children. He was always allowed to eat at our house yet I’d have to walk back if they started having any type of meal. The worst though was his next door neighbor who had a daughter our age and when we were hanging out we all got muddy (we were 10) the girls mom proceeded to take her daughter and my friend into her house to clean them up and told me I wasn’t allowed to enter and that I could use the hose. Some people just know how to ruin a kid’s self esteem.” –boomsloth

Notice any needed corrections? Please email us at corrections@wearemitu.com